(ORDO NEWS) — The journal Nature published a study by Tsinghua University, which claims the emergence of an alternative to the natural origin of life. Its essence is that life originates from mature cells.
In nature, a zygote is formed by the fusion of a sperm and an egg. When a zygote begins to divide, it starts a continuous process of making specialized cells. However, once a single-celled embryo reaches a two-celled state, the later cells lose their ability to create the entire organism and supporting tissues.
In nature, only totiponent stem cells can create an organism, but Chinese scientists were able to artificially create life from pluripotent stem cells, which cannot form extra-embryonic organs.
Scientists have been studying cells for twenty years and treating stem cells with chemicals to give cells the function of building an organism. In the end, they found three molecules that can do this. Mouse cells treated with such a “cocktail” were studied – they contained all the criteria for totipotency.
To further verify the result, the cells were injected into an early mouse embryo. The behavior of the cells coincided both in the embryo and in the Petri dish. Totipotent cells can develop both in the fetus and form the yolk sac and placenta, while pluripotent cells can only develop in the fetus.
The researchers tried to culture the altered cells, and they succeeded. It turns out that the cells that form the body can be “grown” in the laboratory. In the future, this will create a stable system for conducting scientific research on the beginning of life.
Talking about the discovery, scientists did not miss the ethical moment. On the one hand, the ability to grow organisms from scratch would allow for the creation of individual lives, an easy way to study embryos, and even accelerate the evolution of a species.
On the other hand, disputes will be inevitable. While scientists are focused on making discoveries in the present, which provide the basis for future generations who will have knowledge, it will be scientists of the next generations who will make decisions about the possibility of applying this method.
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